CHARLOTTE – In a game those in Hollywood would have even rejected, the last plot twist Monday night went to those on the home sideline.
The Colts dug out of what appeared to be an insurmountable fourth-quarter deficit, yet could not complete the comeback in rainy Charlotte.
Carolina's 29-26 overtime victory gave the Colts their first three-game losing streak of the Chuck Pagano era.
"Very disappointed in the loss," Pagano said after the Colts fell to 3-5 on the season.
For the second straight week, the Colts' start forced them to play catch up for the rest of the game.
Two early turnovers gave Carolina short fields and allowed one of the best defenses in the NFL to play with a 10-0 lead, in less than ideal weather conditions for a visiting offense.
Short fields were a theme of the night, as just one of Carolina's six scoring drive was longer than 37 yards.
"You play an undefeated team…you can't dig yourself a hole," Pagano said.
"We gave them short fields and basically gave them points."
Thanks to a tremendous first half in the run defense department, the Colts clawed their way back with a pair of second-quarter field goals from Adam Vinatieri.
Carolina took a 10-6 lead at intermission, a cushion that would slowly grow in the second half.
A pair of Cam Newton touchdown tosses expanded the Panthers lead to 23-6 with 10:44 left in the fourth quarter.
It was back to a position the Colts have found themselves in far too many times this season.
Once again, though, Indianapolis battled and made things more than interesting.
With the defense forcing punts, the Colts offense finally found its rhythm.
Touchdown grabs by Andre Johnson and Coby Fleener cut the Panthers lead to three points with 2:27 remaining.
A 24-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri at the regulation gun erased the 17-point fourth-quarter deficit and sent the Colts to their second overtime game of the season.
Both teams traded field goals on their first possessions of overtime before another Indianapolis' final turnover would prove to be the difference.
Andrew Luck's third interception of the night put the Panthers immediately into field goal range. Carolina kicker Graham Gano would eventually connect from 52 yards out to give the Panthers a 29-26 victory.
The Luck turnovers in 2015 have been fatal and on Monday nighty they were once again a major part of the outcome.
"It's my problem and it is hurting the team," a dejected Luck said after a third straight loss for the Colts.
"I've got to fix it or else...it's tough to win. Disappointed in myself. It's hard to overcome in a game. It's points. It's short field position."
In a quiet Colts locker room early on Tuesday morning, Robert Mathis said this loss does sting a bit more considering the nature of how things swayed so drastic over the course of 60-plus minutes.
Adversity is hitting the Colts like nothing they've faced the past three seasons.
The division lead is still there, but the margin for error is extremely slim as the Colts reach the midway point of 2015.
"It's not where we want to be, but it's not the end of the world," Pagano said of the Colts current 3-5 mark.
"We can still accomplish all of our goals."
Photos from the Monday Night Football game against the Carolina Panthers